Wall Street Breakfast: Argentina Downgrade, Amazon Smartphone, GM Investigation

by: Wall Street Breakfast
Wall Street Breakfast
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The European Central Bank has expressed its concerns regarding foreign currency benchmarks, stating that relying on one set of data to compile a benchmark cannot guarantee its reliability. The ECB's concerns are related to an EU proposed law to regulate market benchmarks after banks were fined for fixing the Libor rate. Regulators are also now probing related accusations regarding the currency markets.

Argentina's long-term foreign currency rating of CCC+ has been lowered by Standard & Poor's to CCC-, due to an increased risk of default on the country's foreign currency debt. However, S&P affirmed the country's short-term foreign currency rating at C, saying that the court ruling was not likely to affect the government's service on local currency debt.

A day after Gazprom cut off gas supply to Ukraine in a dispute over pricing, a major pipeline which carries gas from Russia to many destinations in Europe exploded in central Ukraine. Officials are suspecting terrorism. Gas flow was not interrupted, as supplies to Europe were rerouted to alternate pipes. Gazprom (OTCPK:OGZPY) is also expecting a $25B prepayment from China, part of a $400B contract signed between Russia and China last month.

T-Mobile is looking to purchase a few smaller competitors to hedge itself in case the possible Sprint (NYSE:S) merger does not come down the pipe. The smaller carriers have a "low-band spectrum", which offers greater service in urban areas due to its ability to penetrate buildings. T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS) is looking for this advantage in order to increase its share in the metropolitan market.

After reporting yesterday that AT&T (NYSE:T) will be the exclusive provider in the U.S. for its new smartphone, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is now in talks to determine who will be its provider in Europe. The company has already spoken to O2 (NYSE:TEF) and Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) in the U.K. Amazon is set to reveal the smartphone rumored to feature a 3D display at an event in Seattle later today.

Telefonica has offered to buy Mediaset's 22% stake in Distribuidora de Television Digital (DTS) for €295M ($400M). If the deal is signed, Telefonica (TEF) will become the sole owner of the Spanish pay-TV company. On June 2, the company agreed to buy a 56% stake in DTS from Prisa for €750M. The agreement is pending regulatory approval, but would increase Telefonica's share in DTS to 78%. Telefonica is looking to expand its TV business to counteract its contracting phone industry.

Pfizer has signed a deal with French biotech firm Cellectis to develop immunotherapy drugs for cancer. The agreement includes an initial lump sum of $80M, as well as payment allocated towards research costs. Cellectis will also be entitled to receive development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments of up to $185M per Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) product, and royalties on any eventual sales. Pfizer is also purchasing a 10% stake in Cellectis through newly issued €9.25 shares.

H&M is planning to add up to 10 new online markets and a shoe range after a solid performance in its second quarter. "We have had a good second quarter with a strong increase in both sales and profits and increased market share," says CEO Karl-Johan Persson. Net profit in Q2 rose 25% to $876M, from $693M in the same period of 2013. Sales totaled $6.7B. Hennes & Mauritz (OTCPK:HMRZF) is also planning to open 375 new stores worldwide this year.

Mt Gox, the failed Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange, is now able to file Chapter 15 bankruptcy proceedings in the U.S. after receiving court approval. In February, Mt Gox said it suffered a hacking attack resulting in the loss of 850k bitcoins (BITCN, OTCQB:BTCS) - around $500M in current prices. The company is now awaiting approval for a settlement with U.S. customers for a company stake, and to divide 200k of the lost bitcoins it has found.

GM CEO Mary Barra is returning to Capitol Hill today to face a House subcommittee and answer questions about the company's ignition switch recall. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton says that this time he wants "straight and honest answers." The Justice Department and other authorities are still investigating why it took more than a decade for GM (NYSE:GM) to recall the 2.6M cars containing the malfunction.

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Today's Markets:
In Asia, Japan +0.9% to 15116. Hong Kong -0.1% to 23182. China -0.5% to 2056. India -1.1% to 25246.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.4%. Paris +0.1%. Frankfurt +0.2%.
Futures at 6:20: Dow flat. S&P flat. Nasdaq +0.1%. Crude +0.3% to $106.64. Gold -0.4% to $1267.40.
Ten-year Treasury Yield -1 bps to 2.65%

Today's economic calendar:
7:00 MBA Mortgage Applications
8:30 Current Account
10:30 EIA Petroleum Inventories
2:00 PM FOMC Announcement
2:00 PM FOMC Forecast
2:30 PM Yellen Press Conference

Notable earnings before today's open: ATU, FDX

Notable earnings after today's close: JBL, RHT

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